By John Findlay - resident of Caledonia
April 9, 2007

Last week I was dismayed, but not surprised, to see that Gary McHale had discontinued the Caledonia Wake Up Call website.

Some people look at the closure as some sort of ploy – an effort on the part of the Gary to extract contributions towards the site.  Brilliant!  Gary need only shut the site down for a few days so that he raise enough money to enable him to continue to be subject to further vicious personal attacks – that he is an “outsider”, a “inciter of violence”, a “racist”, a “white supremacist”.  For what?  So that he can lose more money?  Who needs that?

I have come to know Gary over the past few months, and he is not the type of person who would hurt anyone.  Gary is not racist.  He is most certainly not a white supremacist.  Gary is thoughtful, intelligent and moral.  He is a decent person.  What Gary has, which a great number of people lack, is a conscience. 

Why do people say negative things about Gary?  I believe it is because people are afraid. Gary steps up to the plate.  He is actually willing to do something about what he sees as wrongdoing and injustice.  The people who don’t have the courage to do the same like to criticize the guy who arises from the group and speaks up. He is the “wicked messenger”; the bearer of the truth that no one wants to hear.  He alerts us to an ugly reality that none of us has the intestinal fortitude to take on,  so the convenient response is “lets kill the messenger”.

Those who are engaged in the wrongdoing can’t argue with him on the merits- in fact they desperately want to avoid any discussion of the merits - so they resort to name calling.

I think that Gary closed down the website for one reason – exhaustion.  And who can blame him?

However, residents and businesses of Caledonia should realize how important this site has become.  Caledonia Wake Up Call is a crucial source of reliable information on the events that have taken place in Caledonia, for both the local residents and the rest of the Province of Ontario.  In fact, I know that many people from across the entire country frequent the site to obtain information that is often filtered out of through the official media sources.  It also acts as a magnet for information from those who have information that has been ignored or suppressed by the official sources.

I have also seen the same kind of information “chill” before.  In the late 1990’s, Philip Services Corp., a waste management company based in Hamilton collapsed and lost over $1.5 billion in value.  The company was the darling of the Hamilton media.  It had been heavily promoted as a leading edge high tech operation.  Allegations of questionable environmental practices and accounting irregularities were all “pooh poohed” and ignored by the Hamilton Spectator and the various provincial regulatory agencies.    The accountant, who originally blew the whistle on these illegal practices, was personally vilified in the press.  The company brought an $11 million dollar libel action against him, which was subsequently dismissed by the court.  Those who criticized the company were characterized as “crackpots”.

In 1995 a Yahoo message board about PHV, which was originally used to promote Philip stock, quickly turned into an internet portal for information, good and bad, about the company.  It provided a means by which people with pieces of information about the company could speak to one another.  Much valuable information came out of the website that eventually led to various environmental and securities investigations about the company.  It resulted in a Ministry of the Environment investigation, charges and fines being levied under the Ontario Securities Act against officer and directors of the company and fraud charges against one of the officers, Robert Waxman.

One of the reasons that we established www.caledoniaclassaction.com when we commenced the class action was to gather information.  Since we started the site we have received much valuable information that will be very helpful in prosecuting the class action.  With no other sources of information – not from the police, not from the media- not from the government- the website becomes crucial for information sharing.  People can log in and find out what is truly happening behind the scenes.

The provincial and federal governments, the OPP and Haldimand County would like nothing better than to see the demise of Caledonia Wake Up Call.  It removes a large spotlight that has been effective in exposing their failures. 

Caledonians need to support Gary unreservedly.  They need to provide whatever financial support they can to the continuation of the website.  They have already benefited from Caledonia Wake Up Call.  Now is not the time to fade away.

I believe it is going to be any ugly summer in Caledonia.  I for one want to obtain as much information as possible about what is happening around town, for my own safety and security and that of my family, as well as for the class action.  Let’s show some fortitude, and some smarts, and keep this website going.  It is in our best interest to do so.  If we don’t have a central information-sharing centre, we will become isolated from each other.  Knowledge is power.  Lets keep the knowledge sharing going so that we can have some measure of control in our community and obtain some accountability from those who have done it harm.

By John Findlay - resident of Caledonia
April 9, 2007